Let the Customer Direct Your Queues

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IVR2In my last post I discussed offering choices to your customers. Here’s my second best practice that will accelerate in 2014: let the customer direct your queues.

These days it’s much easier to make adjustments to queue workflow, regardless of channel. If the change isn’t simple for your contact center, we need to talk! The cloud makes is so much easier, but that’s another topic for another day. Today we’re talking about customers directing your queues, so let’s assume it’s pretty simple for you to make queue changes and adjustments.

In my past experience working in contact centers, we arranged our queues based on our division of work: “Press 1 for Sales, press 2 for Service, etc. ” That’s how we divided our work. However, is it how the customer views their work with us? No. It was common to transfer between queues, and that extended the length of call, email exchange, chat session – you name it.

What if we looked at common service and sales situations from the customer’s perspective? Would we reorganize our queues and how work is divided? An inContact customer in healthcare noticed that there were a very high percentage of transfers between their two main queues. In fact, many customers wouldn’t even transfer – they’d hang up and dial the other queue. Over a period of about six months, they gradually cross trained their staff to handle work from both queues and migrated all calls to one unified queue.

The AHT went up – more work was done by one agent. However total minutes in the voice channel went down. Why? Customers didn’t have to retell their story, or wait for an agent to warm transfer and tell agent #2 the story before completing the transfer.

Customer satisfaction went up. Agents were happier because customers were happier. No, it’s not all puppies and rainbows – retraining took time, and some agents couldn’t make the transition. However, the vast majority of agents successfully completed the cross-training and liked the variety of work.

Give it some thought – how would your customer organize their “work” with you? Could your queues be adjusted? You don’t have to do it as a flash cut – A/B testing can be an effective testing strategy if your platform is easy to adapt.

If you start investigating you might find there are hidden cost and efficiency savings in store for your contact center by organizing your work from the customer’s point of view.

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